Texas-based Midland Health recently opened a new inpatient palliative care center aimed at improving access and quality outcomes among seriously ill patients and their families.
Dubbed the Center for Serious Illness and Supportive Care, the facility will be based at the health system’s Midland Memorial Hospital.
In addition to supporting hospital-based palliative patients, a second objective is to expand those services beyond its facility walls and into the community, according to Kathryn Lagus, advanced practice registered nurse at Midland Memorial Hospital. Lagus has played a key role in developing the health system’s palliative care program.
“I am so proud and grateful to announce that the Center for Serious Illness and Supportive Care at Midland Health is open as an in-patient specialty palliative care service,” Lagus told local news in a letter. “We look forward to further developing this program into one that extends beyond the hospital.”
The inpatient palliative care center launches after nearly a year of focusing on staff recruitment efforts.
A host of interdisciplinary care teams and back-office staff is needed to support this level of inpatient palliative care, Lagus stated. It took both time and resources to build up sufficient staffing volumes to meet patient demand and facility maintenance and management needs, she said.
“As football season quickly approaches, the best way to describe what a palliative care team is might be comparing it to a local football team,” Lagus said. “The past 10 or 11 months have been dedicated to drafting the team, from the smiles you see when you walk in the front door to housekeeping, from medical staff to nursing, IT, case management and everyone in between. It is designed with flexibility, adaptability, resilience and strength, in hopes to be victorious for the ‘coach’ and everyone who needs our services.”
Patients and families eligible to receive care at the palliative facility include those with recent cancer diagnoses or other serious or life-limiting illnesses.
Hospitalized patients with longer stays and uncontrolled pain and symptom management are also eligible to receive these inpatient palliative services, which include goals of care discussions, care coordination, pain and symptom management, as well as spiritual and emotional support, among others.
Midland Health provides palliative, hospice, home health, primary, emergency and critical care, primary in addition to other health care services. Established in 1950, the nonprofit hospital provides facility- and community-based care across Midland County, Texas, and surrounding communities in the state’s western region.
The health system’s hospice reach grew in 2022 when its home health arm, Midland Health at Home, formed a partnership with Calvert Home Health. In addition to hospice, Midland Health at Home provides social work services, skilled nursing and rehabilitative therapies, and other home health services.
Calvert Home Health is an affiliate of LifeSpring Home Care and Hospice, which provides home health and hospice care in Texas and Oklahoma. The two organizations recently launched a new home health care service line.
A main aim for the health system’s home-based care programs is to reduce hospitalizations and emergency care utilization among seriously ill patients when their pain and symptoms can be managed in the home.
Facing loneliness and isolation are among the most “overlooked symptoms” managed among home-based palliative care patients, according to Stephen Bowerman, senior vice president at Midland Memorial Hospital.
“I think probably the most important thing, and honestly overlooked is [that] when our staff makes home visits they help resolve loneliness and isolation for some of our patients. It’s very valuable,” Bowerman told local news.